TV Review: Anger Management

daniel cohen suffers through charlie sheen’s new show…

Plot: Charlie Goodson (Charlie Sheen) was an angry ball player turned anger management therapist. But when his ex-wife’s (Shawnee Smith) new boyfriend gives his teenage daughter (Daniela Bobadilla) some questionable advice regarding college, Charlie nearly reverts back to his old ways.

It’s no secret that television has changed since Survivor came onto the scene. Our shows are now flooded with reality TV. Even today’s sitcoms like The Office, Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family try to act like they are reality TV themselves. The point I’m trying to make is that the traditional sitcom has been dead for quite some time. Sure, there are still mediocre to below mediocre programs like How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men still floating around, but the sitcom is a lost art. Even though I enjoy some of today’s comedies like Community and Modern Family, I do miss the classic sitcom format. A lot of my friends tell me, ‘Dan, get over it. The sitcom is old and tired. It’s done.’ But I always responded with, ‘No…there’s a great traditional sitcom like Cheers waiting for us.’ I believed that someday another Seinfeld would grace our presence…the sitcom perfected once again. But after watching Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom Anger Management, I finally gave in. Sitcoms are officially dead. Anger Management literally sucked the soul out of my body. I guess in a way I’m sort of happy. Now I can move on with my life. For tonight…I watched the sitcom get murdered.

Within the first three seconds, I hated this with every fiber of my being. It’s Charlie Sheen talking to the camera and basically summing up those ten minutes when we all thought he was somewhat amusing (‘winning’/Two and a Half Men jokes). It was the laziest sitcom writing I’ve ever seen in my life. And what comes after that is just a terrible barrage of stereotypical gay jokes. The first scene is Charlie and his anger management group, which consists of a gay man (Michael Arden), disgruntled war veteran (Barry Corbin), and some other weird guy (Derek Richardson) that I don’t even remember, because I was so pissed off at how bad the jokes were that I couldn’t even focus on what his unfunny one note quirk was.

What was really fascinating to me though was that it seemed like all these actors knew how bad their material was. Nobody looked like they wanted to be there, even Charlie Sheen. He just looked tired and bored in this. But when there’s no energy from the actors, you get people over playing everything like it was some parody of a sitcom in a Saturday Night Live sketch. Michael Boatman as Charlie’s neighbor and friend Mike was the worst at this. In his first scene, it’s almost as if he’s winking at the audience shouting, ‘Hey mom, I’m in a sitcom!’

Then there are actors who are so ashamed of the jokes they are delivering, that they are literally rushing through them. Shawnee Smith plays Charlie’s ex-wife, and she looks like she’s in pain delivering some of these lines. There’s a joke where she introduces her new boyfriend to Charlie, and she say’s something like ‘Let the awkward moment begin.’ She’s in such a hurry to deliver this terrible line that the awkward moment is in fact for the people watching at home, and not for the two characters on screen.

I guess there are a couple people who come out of this thing unscathed. Selma Blair is passable, and the one bright spot was Noureen DeWulf as Lacey, the attractive patient of Charlie’s anger management group. She seemed like if she had the right material, she could be funny. There were also a couple decent gags about how college is a waste of time and money that were close to being clever.

At the end of the day, this is just lazy writing. When you look up the word ‘lazy’ in the dictionary, you’ll now see a picture of the pilot script for Anger Management. There are also just terrible gags about Charlie’s teenage daughter having OCD, and an anger management prison group. Yeah, jokes about OCD and murder…woo-hoo. Now that stuff can certainly work in a dark comedy setting, but when these jokes aren’t funny, it’s just in bad taste. And that’s pretty much what this show did to me…it left a bad taste in my mouth, and there isn’t enough listerine in the world to wash it out.

Rating: 2 out of 10 (A Complete and Utter Disaster)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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